The first time Kathy Getty showed up at the Medical Center Hospital of Vermont she was, well, a newborn. She debuted in what was then called the Mary Fletcher Hospital in 1954.
14 years later, she was back here as a candy striper. What she saw inspired her to pursue a career in nursing. “I saw the nurses dealing with these children and families who were so frightened. And knowing that the little bit that I was doing was making a difference, I thought: I want to be a nurse.”
And just like that, she was back at the hospital five years later with her nursing degree. She started out in cardiology and 45 years later, she’s still here.
As a cardiac catheterization lab specialist, Kathy is responsible for helping cardiac patients understand what they need to do to prepare for and recover from a cardiac catheterization, and provides support for those who are coming in to have a pacemaker or defibrillator implanted. She also makes sure that information from patients who have suffered what’s called an ST elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI) – a very serious type of heart attack – goes into a national registry of STEMI patients.
Kathy says she loves the fact that there are always new procedures and new technologies to learn in her work. One transformative example has been trans-aortic valve replacement (TAVR), for which she’s had a front row seat. TAVR is a relatively new procedures that makes it possible to replace the aortic valve without open heart surgery. “Just watching that program progress – over 1000 patients later – has been really exciting,” she says.
But most of all, she appreciates the impact that she and the team have. With our STEMI program, patients who have suffered heart attacks go right in for their cardiac catheterization, saving heart muscle in the process. She helps people through those first harrowing hours. “We open that artery and the minute it opens, most patients are pain-free. You look at their faces and they are just so thankful. It gives me a thrill every time to see the transformation from when the artery is totally blocked – and the next minute it’s wide open.”
Kathy also really values the collaborative spirit of her team. “Everyone is so talented. We all listen to each other – and we all really, really care about our patients.”
Today, Kathy feels like the decades have flown by, but her first impressions of health care still linger – and motivate her. Looking forward, Kathy enjoys bringing her perspective, her work ethic and her appreciation for the value of what we do to her team and her patients. “It’s been a wonderful journey,” she says. “And I feel very blessed that I could be a part of it for all these years.”